Pope Francis: Respecting the diversity of world religions is not relativism

The interreligious contribution of Pope Francis continued recently during his recent trip to Kazakhstan. Below is some of the text of Pope Francis’ weekly Wednesday audience, delivered on Sept. 21, 2022. What do you think? Share with us your comments and prayers that contribute to bringing us all together.

Last week, from Tuesday to Thursday, I traveled to Kazakhstan, a vast country in Central Asia, for the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. I renew my gratitude to the President of the Republic and the other Authorities of Kazakhstan for the cordial welcome I was given and for the generous efforts in organizing it. I also sincerely thank the Bishops and all the collaborators for the great work they have done, and especially for the joy, they have given me in being able to meet and see them all together.

As I said, the main reason for the trip was to take part in the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. This initiative has been carried out for 20 years by the Authorities of the country, which presents itself to the world as a place of meeting and dialogue, in this case at the religious level, and thus as a leading player in promoting peace and human brotherhood. It was the seventh edition of this congress. A country that has been independent for 30 years has already had seven editions of these congresses, one every three years. This means putting religions at the center of efforts to build a world where we listen to each other and respect each other in diversity. And this is not relativism, no, it is listening and respecting. And credit for this must be given to the Kazakh government, which, having freed itself from the yoke of the atheistic regime, now proposes a path of civilization, clearly condemning fundamentalism and extremism. It is a balanced position and one of unity.

The Congress discussed and approved the Final Declaration, which stands in continuity with the one signed in Abu Dhabi in February 2019 on human fraternity. I like to interpret this step forward as the fruit of a journey that starts from afar: I am thinking, of course, of the historic Interfaith Meeting for Peace convened by St. John Paul II in Assisi in 1986, much criticized by people who lacked vision; I am thinking of the far-sighted gaze of St. John XXIII and St. Paul VI; and also that of great souls of other religions—I limit myself to recalling Mahatma Gandhi. But how can we not remember so many martyrs, men and women of all ages, languages and nations, who paid with their lives for their fidelity to the God of peace and fraternity? We know: solemn moments are important, but then it is the daily commitment, it is the concrete witness that builds a better world for all.

Excerpt from America Magazine, September 21, 2022

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